May 18, 2015

The bizarre entitlement culture of our public sector

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 151 comments ·
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Did you know that this week the pampered, well-paid mandarins in the Department of Finance agitated for higher wages for themselves, while at the same time advising that the minimum wage for the poorest workers shouldn’t rise?

Isn’t this extraordinary?

This is the Irish Department of Finance whose main job is to prevent booms and busts destabilising the economy. On this basis, it must be, over the past ten years, the least effective Department of Finance in the western world. Did anyone get fired for overseeing the economic calamity of the past 15 years of helter-skelter?

Yet these mandarins feel entitled to wage increases now just because the economy is growing faster than they, who are paid to forecast, could forecast. On top of this, they argue that wage increases for the lowest paid would threaten national “competitiveness”!

The truth is that increasing pay for some of the best paid civil servants in Europe threatens Irish competitiveness, far more than raising the meagre wages of the low paid.

In mature western democracies, where there is a split between public and private sectors, where the citizens expect value for their public services and are content to pay for them, probably the most important competitive variable in the economy is the productivity of the public service.

The standout successes in this regard are New Zealand, Australia and Canada where the public sector performs exceptionally well both in terms of its cost, the service it provides and where there is a direct link between individual productivity and pay.

Citizens in these English-speaking countries, with broadly similar legal and corporate structure to ours, are happy to pay for public service as long as they are good. In all these countries there are sophisticated metrics to gauge public service efficiency. These indicators make sure that the public are getting a service and also prevent the countries being ransomed by public service unions.

In these countries, it is simply not the case that when there is more money in the national kitty, an implicit trigger is pulled inside the heads of the public sector unions which gives them the “right” to look for more wages.

This ‘more money in the kitty, higher public sector wages’ is a bizarre way of looking at the world. If the public sector behaves this way what actually happens is the public sector squeezes the private sector and smothers the economy.

New wage increases in the public sector can only come if there is a significant increase in productivity of the public sector. So ask yourself, is Ireland run any better this year than last year? Are the 350,000 public servants working harder, smarter and is the delivery of public services better this year than last year?

If the answer is yes, then sure let’s talk, but if not, why should economic growth, generated by larger general tax revenue trigger an increase in public sector wages?

Why should one follow from the other? I don’t get this bit. I can’t see the economic logic of this axiomatic identity. Can you?

In Ireland, unfortunately, we seem to operate in a bubble where an improvement in fiscal revenues generated in the main by more employment in the private sector, more tax revenue from the private sector, more Vat and corporation tax and more export revenue generated by the private sector, should automatically trigger an increase in public sector pay. Where does this notion come from?

If we need more teachers and nurses, let’s employ more and build new schools and new hospitals, but why should economic growth necessarily “entitle” public servants (who are after all only 17 per cent of the workforce) to an automatic pay rise? This is particularly galling to the other 83 per cent of the workforce who generated the growth in the first place.

This is simply looting one sector by another. It is classic insider/outsider behaviour.

The insiders in this case are the union leadership who have access to the negotiating table via the legacy of social partnership and have the ear of government ministers. The outsiders are the private sector workers who are, in the main, unrepresented and get their pay rises from their own productivity. The insiders get first dibs (wage rises) on the fruits of the efforts of the outsiders (higher tax revenues).

Let’s look how other countries do things to see how bizarre and unfair our system is.

New Zealand takes a totally different approach to public sector pay. Individuals are paid if they are good and are not paid, if they are not good.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Kiwis completely changed the health and education services and public pay negotiations realising that the country needed to eradicate this insider/outsider process.

All public servants were put on individual contracts. There is now no collective bargaining and the country has removed the ban on firing public servants who don’t perform. This means that in the public service, if you are good, you do well and if you are a slacker, you go.

This is the way it works in the rest of the economy and the explicit link between performance and pay and career path is the most fair and liberating way to do things. It means we all have a choice and we are in control.

Today, after all these changes, New Zealand is a rich country.

The health service is cited by many as an exemplar, both in terms of the system itself and the way in which it is funded. Its education service is in the top 2 per cent in the world, while ours is falling back.

Did you know that the average child in secondary school in New Zealand has a mathematical achievement standard that is twice as high as the average child in school in Ireland?

Yes twice as high. In New Zealand, according to a study from Stanford University, 16 per cent of 16-year-olds are performing at an ‘‘advanced level of maths proficiency’’. In Ireland, the corresponding figure is 7.9 per cent.

The message is personal responsibility is good for all and the fact that there is more money around is no reason to increase the pay of all without any link to individual performance.

In contrast, we in Ireland are encumbered with the vested interests, the insiders, who, this week, are trying extract wage increases as if they are an “entitlement” where no such entitlement or right exists.

How bizarre is this? Is this any way to run a competitive economy?


  1. Lius

    David,

    I agree with most of what you say regarding our messed-up political/economic mess. However when you go off on your indiscriminate Public Sector rant you alienate a huge section of your followers. Please do a little research before you go off on one again,, there are two parts of the public sector.

    The first part consists of the grossly overpaid and incompetent Politicians, ‘CIVIL’ Servants in Government Departments and QUANGOS’s like the HSE. This group deserve your criticisms entirely.

    The second part consists of ‘PUBLIC’ Servants who are highly skilled, underpaid and provide important services to YOU and YOUR family.

    Please do yourself a favour and make a clear distinction these groups when discussing the public sector, otherwise you just sound as THICK as the well-paid Mandarins that you are trying to target.

    • paul d

      There is a fundamental issue that I feel will never be addressed. The level of pensions paid to the majority of Public Sector retirees is astronomical. The pensioner support ratio, which illustrates the number of working to the number aged 65 and over is forecast to decrease significantly, 5.4:1 in 2010 to 2.3:1 by 2055. This is an issue for both public and private sector but the level of pensions paid to public servants is unsustainable and will eventually bankrupt the country. Will it ever receive the overhaul needed… I doubt it, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

      • Lius

        paul d

        Why don’t you bother to do a little research? Do you know how much we pay for our pensions? We don’t get them for free like you are trying to suggest.

        • paul d

          Lius,

          Not sure where I mentioned you “get Public Sector pensions for free”??
          I have done the research
          1) the levels of pensions paid in the Public Sector are considerably than European counterparts.
          2) the pensions that are paid would equate to accumulated defined contribution schemes having retirement values of over €2mil. Which for the majority of the private sector is unattainable.
          And before you question this consider the fact that a defined contribution scheme of €1 million will provide an annuity or pension of circa €40,000. Not opinion Lius, just cold hard facts

          • Lius

            Paul d,

            Yes you did a little self-serving research and lumped all Public Servants together to present a bad image just like DMcW and Deco would.

            If you bothered to dig a little deeper you would see that we are paying 14% for our pensions and us lower grades with say 20 years service are getting very little of a pension in return. To rub salt into our wounds we have twice the OAP deducted from our pension payments even though we pay PRSI for it, private sector still get all their OAP.

            Yes maybe the top Civil servants and Quangos are pushing the average PS pension value up but if you compared them to managers/CEO’s in the financial sector responsible for similar sized organisations / turnovers you would see that they are not earning anything as much over their lifetime, maybe that’s their punishment for incompetence?

            You are just another lazy PS basher, if you joined forces with PUBLIC servants rather than abusing us maybe we could tackle the CIVIL servants and Quangos who are the root of all of the problems.

        • paul d

          Lius,

          While you seem intent on personal attacks, the points I have raised are accurate and factual.

          If you don’t like hearing the truth then by all means continue attacking any commentators pointing out that there is a significant flaw in the Public Sector pension system… Pay parity is one such example.

          During the 2007/2008 meltdown a large number of private sector employees lost their jobs, that’s a 100% pay cut, that means no pension contributions while they were out of work. Harsh but the ways of the world. Can you honestly state that the current system is equitable and more importantly in touch with the needs of the population as a whole, private and public sector?

          • Lius

            Paul d,

            The personal attacks were started by DMcW when he wrote his diatribe vilifying all PS workers as one useless overpaid group. Decent front line PS workers find this type of daily abuse highly offensive and very distressing, we have feelings too you know. And then DMcW’s PS bashing fans (incl. you) continue his personal attack against us by fabricating arguments that I have shown to be both misleading and inaccurate.

            Pay parity you say, I earn 50% less than my identical counterpart in the private sector and he gets half of his pension paid by his employer plus bonus. And why don’t I work alongside him? Well I used to but I could no longer stomach the rampant criminal activity in the construction industry.

            I have addressed the PS pension system but you ignored me. It only provides decent pensions for the top Civil Servants and Quangos with 40y service, it is poor value for money for lower grades with less service – fact.

            As for private sector job losses, I already said that they were unfortunate, but would you prefer to pay builders when there is no work for them or pay hospital staff to save lives and care for the ill?

            If you really want reform in our society why don’t you start with the private sector builders and developers who build dog-box-sized death traps at exorbitant prices tat enslave their inhabitants. I suppose they have sharp teeth and aren’t such an easy target.

            As Holmer Simpon said “The TRUTH?, you couldn’t handle the truth”.

  2. Luis

    I hear you, but every article can’t be so nuanced. What has always amazed me is why the PS of along with their leaders all the time when it is clear that the notion of individual contracts would reward the good PS workers and weed out the poor ones. Why do you all allow the unions bosses to pretend that you are one monolithic bloc?

    Best

    D

    • Hi David,

      its easy to forget that there are insiders and outsiders even from a point of view that is inside the PS. I have heard PS horror stories that have lead me to conclude that the “monolithic block” you depict is not there by consent, rather as a result of bribery or coercion. The actions of those with their noses deep in the trough are intended to keep them exactly in this position.

      In my view expecting the PS to correct itself or to undergo some sort of internal revolution is unfortunately a forlorn hope. The only way to change it for some incredibly brave Government to unilaterally change the rules, as you suggest.

    • Reality Check

      Exactly David, To me the analogy like the When Islamic terrorism isn’t condemned by other Muslims. Or the lack of condemnation from Jews for the barbarous acts that the Israeli Army commits against Palestinian children etc. You’d have to wonder is it tacit approval? Another aspect in common with the two examples mentioned above is the ease at which they crawl into victim “poor me” mode when it suits. A Lack of Morality is key here I think.

    • Reality Check

      Exactly David, To me the analogy is like When Islamic terrorism isn’t condemned by other Muslims. Or the lack of condemnation from Jews for the barbarous acts that the Israeli Army commits against Palestinian children etc. You’d have to wonder is it tacit approval? Another aspect in common with the two examples mentioned above is the ease at which they crawl into victim “poor me” mode when it suits. A Lack of Morality is key here I think.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Why there are only you two voices in Ireland brave enough to voice such views (yourself and Mr. Gurdgiev)? All Irish media fall into the trade-unions narrative (and if Ireland is, according to Nationmaster statistics, 4 times more unionized than socialist France…).
      The only thing I can add to your excellent article is that New Zealand has also abolishing all 30 farm subsidies – and the world did not fall apart, on the contrary, their food export became competitive – and forced the largest bank in New Zealand and its bondholders to take losses.

      But Lius is right on one point: one has find the group on which we can base a political movement that can challenge the system. It cannot be trade unions and it cannot be the Irish outsiders forced to emigrate because they are prevented from voting!

    • Deco

      To be honest, I am sick of the repeated demand to water down any request for even the slightest bit accountability from the Irish institutional state.

      What has the Irish Public sector to hide. We see this standard, and predictable response every time. It is so predictable.

      You get told not to “tar everybody with the same brush”. You get a lesson in the value of public service. [ eh….right…what about the DoF ? or Fas ? or the DoE dumbing down standards ?

      And of course if you persist in demanding accountability or performance, you get a patronizing lecture about how you don’t know about the Irish Public Sector.

      Why cannot a simple question even be asked ?

      What is wrong with the Irish institutional state, and why is there NO effort at fixing it ?

  3. Lius

    David,

    Our Union officials are just as corrupt as the Mandarins who actually control them.

    Our CEO who is on €250K and the girl at the reception desk on €25k are both in the same union, how could that work? we are monitored and manipulated and have no say in anything. If we complain our union (the CEO) tells us to leave and go to the private sector if we don’t like it.

  4. mogrady14

    Ask for the name of those in the Department of Finance who support such an initiative. Suggest they should be asked questions about this. See how many will agree to be held publicly accountable for bringing in such an initiative.

  5. Danny

    Yesterday’s Independent reported that the Central Bank was duped into paying a €1.4m dud invoice. The article indicated that a full review of the bank’s IT systems and controls has been completed with banking procedure now being “updated”. It doesn’t mention anywhere that a person was accountable, you would wonder how many smaller sums have been incorrectly passed for payment. It is laughable that this same agency has spent the passed few years advising credit unions on corporate governance and subjects such as procurement when its own house is clearly in disrepair.

    http://goo.gl/TkYJ0R

  6. Reality Check

    The feeling abroad in “outsider” land seems to be; If the Financial crisis and IMF didn’t have the result of changing from this “institutional corruption” (which is what it is) then what the hell will???

  7. Reality Check

    Democracy in Ireland amounts to the tyranny of the public sector voting bloc.

    • Deco

      I would add, that the three dominant political parties have their families living off the institutional state.

      Next time there is an election, and you get door-stepped by an advocate of one of the three main parties, ask the canvasser his/her profession.

      Most of the time they are on the public payroll.

      Next question : how did you get on the public payroll ?

      Before there will be any reform of the public sector in Ireland, there will need to be a government that will not contain FF, FG, the GP, or the LP. For internal reasons they are committed to continuing the current unaccountable, underperforming, high cost, culture.

      • coldblow

        I agree.

        I did this once, nearly twenty years ago, when there was an election. The Labour Party canvasser asked me what my concerns were and I said my main grievance was the EU. He was surprised and looked pointedly around, at my little terraced house with the door straight out onto the road and St Teresa’s Gardens behind a high steel security fence.

        ‘Why are you bothered about that?’ he asked and in return I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a solicitor.

  8. patricia03

    Don’t think all is well here in New Zealand with our Public Service. The current Government is determined to kill it by a thousand cuts. Hospital waiting lists are horrific, private prisons are being set up and word is out that this Year’s annual Budget is attacking social Welfare. We once had a wonderful Public Service but now the staff is overworked and feel frightened about their jobs. You can create great fear among staff with what you are advocating and it is NOT the way to create a good Public Servive. I could go and on but it is not good here.

    • allblackmagic

      You’re right that fear is a poor way to go about change Patricia, but working in the public sector should not be a form of charity either here or in Ireland.

      There isn’t anywhere near the featherbedding there used to be but “overworked” isn’t a term I’d use to describe for more than 95% of the people in the NZPS agencies I’ve worked in.

      For nine years Helen Clark threw billions of dollars and thousands of extra people into the sector and productivity went down.

      A sense of entitlement seems to be a truly global sentiment…

      • Lius

        allblackmagic,

        My daughter who did her internship in the same Public Service organisation as I work in Ireland recently moved to NZ to work. While she was not impressed by the work ethic in the department she worked in in my PS organisation she is absolutely GOBBSMACKED at the lay back and overpaid private sector in NZ.

        I think people need to start to compare the realities between public and private sector jobs. When I worked at the same job in the private sector I had a small team to assist me and had the authority to recruit additional staff when things were busy.

        Here in the PS I have to do everything myself, answer all my calls, do all my own clerical work, be available on my personal mobile phone when ill or on leave, and now I have to clean my office and empty my bin due to cutbacks. All these menial tasks limit my professional work output and DMcW + gang (Deco) call me lazy or slow.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          I do not think Deco or David McWilliams called you lazy or slow.

          But here is a reality check for you: my first job in Ireland was working for Hilton. While doing all the stuff that you are doing, I also had to:
          - do General Manager’s job dealing with all the complaints that he should have due do things he had falsely promised to our customers – he left after a year while collecting a nice €80,000 and the next one left suddenly due to armed robbery he was co-responsible for (lack of staff and security)
          - deal with complaints arising from things the Function Manager had fucked up
          - do the audit
          - occasionally serve some pint or a sandwich which was not in my job description
          - deal with louts because Hilton was saving on security – one night an eejit enter the hotel lobby in a balaclava and a gun and told me to open the safe, so I just took the gun off him, and he escaped; after that they had to get a security – in public sector some Garda was 3 years off after such event due to post-traumatic stress disorder and some public servants would get a €1,000 euro compensation for resulting stress; I got nothing and had to work the same night

          All of that was for €18,000 so I left for a better job.
          And for Michael Coughlan who says cheap East European labour takes jobs of the locals I have this to say: they could not find a local to do all of that what I could do, even for much better money and I had to correct spelling mistakes of 2 Duty Managers in DM book, one was from West Cork, the other one from Dublin

          So do not call us a ‘gang’ it’s unprofessional – you would not survive a minute in private sector with that kind of attitude…

          • Lius

            Grzegorz,

            I emigrated to the US during the recession in Ireland during the 1980′s and spent almost 10 years there. I had the same experience as you did when you immigrated here. The difference is that I knew I was the new kid on the block and had to earn my stripes and I accept it as a life experience. I did not convert my experience into a lifetime grudge against the US PS like you are doing to the Irish PS.

            And how was life where you came from? A bed of roses I bet based on your unreasonable expectations of Irish society.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Lius,

          Relax.
          I do not hold the grudge against all people in public service as I do not know all people in public service
          But I think you rather miss a point when you boil it down to people like me, David or Deco calling you lazy. None of us does (for different reasons as we have different views – as Dave’s blog reader you must have noticed I often argue with him).

          But I dare say that one view the 3 of us share is that good work should be rewarded and bad work should be penalized. That’s NOT THE CASE IN PUBLIC SECTOR, but not for the reasons you outlined when you constructed a straw man and said we think you are lazy. Why? Because of various mechanisms in public sector that do not exist in private sector (the non-crony part), such as lack of individual contracts, benchmarking and terrorizing passengers.

          I take on board what you said and I am not saying that you should be doing more (even though I did) as you seem to be up to snowed down with work anyway (digression: changing bins and cleaning your desk is a matter of personal hygiene – I never waited for a cleaner to do that for me even when I had to deal with 200 people on my own and sometimes I had to).

          What I am saying is this: David came up with an idea of individual contracts that would reward good workers. You seem to be against it. Why???!!!!

          And secondly, you did not address my point that low wage workers have to pay in excess of 2,000 euro per annum to finance exorbitant salaries of DB drivers while in places like Vienna they only have to pay 365 euro. Why do you think that’s fair????!!!! Why DB gets ANY SUBSIDY with those Russian-mafia style prices? Why just not dissolve the whole f…ng thing and have a cheap and reliable private operator?
          And thirdly, there is little or none accountability in public sector. Sacking a teacher is almost impossible and I know of criminal cases in public sector where people kept their jobs(in fact I have done some research on it).

          Some people working in public sector I know are fantastically professional, some are underpaid (a young Garda officer I shared with) and some are hugely overpaid (like a secondary school teacher who, according to her own admission, did not read any book for the last 5 years and was giving out about private sector bonuses yet her colleague was able to drop teaching for year and go around the world AFTER THE ‘SAVAGE CUTS’ – to travel, not to work (yea right, those within the crony sector capitalism (which is the opposite of free market) were getting huge bonuses, not those in services or self-employed).

          As to where I came from and whether it was a bed of roses: no it was corrupt to an extent that you or David cannot fathom. The division between insider and outsider is 100 times bigger in Poland. Taxes for families are second highest in the world and there is practically no tax credits. All jobs are taken by the insiders and all TV stations had been founded by ex-communist secret services. A finance minister can exempt anyone from income tax and he does not have to justify why or publish the list. People who try to change the system die in car accidents, even if they are at the top of the Supreme Audit Office (all witnesses of that accident, including policemen, also died or disappeared) or are charged with crimes they did not commit. When Civic Platform took power in Poland, they changed even swimming pool managers in Warsaw, such is the level of cronyism.
          That’s why 2,000 Poles left Poland in the last decade (including 360,000 for Ireland, though that number went down to 150,000 since the recession).

          THAT’S WHY I DO NOT WANT THE SAME SYSTEM OF INSIDER AND OUTSIDER TAKING ROOTS IN IRELAND. THAT’S WHY I WANT IRISH IMMIGRANTS TO HAVE RIGHTS TO VOTE.

  9. Mike Lucey

    I was in PS (Semi-State Body) for a short period (2 years) back in the 70s. I felt that I didn’t fit into the ‘mind set’ so went back into the private sector and once I gained enough experience /confidence I moved to the self employed sector.

    I did quite well in the self employed sector until 2008 and am now realising that I would now be far better off today had I remained in the PS as I probably would be in the upper levels of the PS ‘riding’ on the backs of the PS lower levels. However that is not my nature.

    The simple answer is for some political party or movement to adopt the PS system operated by the KiWis. I say ‘movement’ as I doubt any current political party has the inclination or balls to go this route.

    And while we at at it, we could also adopt the Swiss direct democracy system that was in the Irish Free State Constitution for a short period until the bright boyos realised that it didn’t / wouldn’t suit their agenda. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_Irish_Free_State

    I often wonder how many Irish signatures could be achieved in support of the reintroduction of the Irish Free State, Articles 47, 48 and 50. With the likes of Avaaz https://www.avaaz.org/en/ it should be quite possible for a well recognised Irish individual to start the ball moving on such a petition, hint, hint DMcW ;-)

    To give such a petition some clout I imagine it might be a good idea for each signatory to also include their Irish Passport number. I’m sure the 500,000 young, bright, intelligent Irish emigrants that have moved to the UK, USA, Oz, NZ, Canada etc etc as a ‘lifestyle choice’ over the past eight years would be very interested in signing such a petition. I know my two daughters, one in Sydney and the other in Auckland, would jump at the chance.

    I feel a petition with 500,000 Irish citizen signatures would weld some serious clout and possible be a foundation for some serious change in this banana republic that we now unfortunately have.

    • You hit the nail on the head there Mike.

      The 500,000+ smartest Irish people, such as your daughters are outside the country, for good reason – the insiders here would never let them vote from abroad and would ignore any petition which would not have a legal standing.

      Most (not all) of the people remaining here are cannon fodder, not smart enough or brave enough to emigrate – they purely exist to be milked by the elites.

  10. Reality Check

    @Patricia That’s a fair point. I think it’s an example of the pendulum swinging too far the other way. From speaking to some Kiwis the lack of “community” doesn’t help the situation either. A LOW TRUST SOCIETY IS WHAT KILLS. What we need is a citizens charter about what services, rights and obligations we should operate to – both Public and Private.

  11. If one wants an accountable public service then you make every PS department publish their accounts. Not just summaries, everything. All money in, all money out, including salaries. The technology exists, the platforms are there to make any Department completely financially transparent.

    The Irish are always going on about being a high-tech economy and all the rest, I’m sure Google would set something like this up for free.

    One rule: total financial transparency as the default requirement on all departments, all public employees. Do that and all else will be well.

    • DB4545

      Liam

      I outlined a proposal below. Why not have financial transparency for both public and private sectors. Public servants draw water from the well of public finances but so do many other groups, let’s have total transparency and free access to public records under freedom of information.

      DB

      • locoloco

        I agree 100% The clearest way for the people to have control over their country is to have access to information.
        One small step in that direction is OGP (Open Government Partnership), of which one of the key planks relates to Open Data.
        This is an international standard, and we have applied to be part of it (I think ~50 countries aiming for it).

  12. EugeneN

    It is indeed pretty damn odd that the DOF is demanding pay rises while supporting none for lower paid private sector workers. My solution to that is simple, all PS increases are dependent on increases in lower level pay, if the average of the bottom 20% increases then you get that raise. I expect we would see some different philosophies.

    That said, David is being either disingenuous or innumerate in his comparison with NZ, as any vague understanding of maths ( paradoxically) would show. To say:

    “Did you know that the average child in secondary school in New Zealand has a mathematical achievement standard that is twice as high as the average child in school in Ireland?
    Yes twice as high. In New Zealand, according to a study from Stanford University, 16 per cent of 16-year-olds are performing at an ‘‘advanced level of maths proficiency’’. In Ireland, the corresponding figure is 7.9 per cent.”

    This is to severely misunderstand averages. I mean obviously the top 16% there or the top 7.9% here is not the average. Furthermore even if you did restrict to the top 16 percent in both, you would need to know the raw numbers before you could say that NZ students were twice as good, it could be that the top 16% of Irish students had an average score of 82 to NZ’s 88 where 85 is the cut off point for “advanced”; but all of the NZ students ( from this distorted sample of the top 16%) were above 85 but only half the Irish students were (The rest would probably be lower 80′s). Whatever this is, it isn’t “twice as good”

    And thats to cherry pick the top which is what DM is doing when he describes NZ as twice as good as the Irish. Ireland could in fact beat NZ on average even if NZ is showing better results in the top 20 percentile. In fact according to PISA ( is that what we are seeing here), that is the case.

    Here is this study ( generally considered the canonical study)

    http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf

    In that study NZ has an average score ( in Maths) of 500, to Ireland’s 501 but it does have a higher percentage in the top performers (15% to Irelands 10.7%). Ireland has fewer in the lower scoring levels. So we do better, slightly on average.

    Not a teacher by the way, but these kind of statistical distortions do grate a little.

    • DJR

      Yeah, some very dodgy maths from David – maybe our education system is as bad as he suggests!
      For the record, here are the 2012 PISA results:
      New Zealand: Reading 512, Mathematics 500, Science 512
      Ireland: Reading 523, Mathematics 501, Science 522
      Not to mention, these results happened while the Irish education system integrated an unprecedented number of immigrant children, often with English not being the spoken language at home.

      Before changing to an individualistic NZ style system, David would do well to take a look at the education system in the UK/US, where a climate of fear and mistrust exists thanks to short term contracts and ‘performance related pay’.

      • survivalist

        Well said the information presented as factual is flatly false , not to mention what is in my mind the hidden agenda; divide and conquer?

  13. David NZ

    @EugeneN – a couple of good comparisons there.

    I think you will find that New Zealand has had pretty good stats for reading, science and maths for many years due mostly to a dedicated teacher body who believe in what they do. From what I have heard from former teachers it is becoming more difficult to teach in lower income areas due to discipline problems.

    If you break the results down on ethnic lines you will probably find that recent Asian immigration has increased the maths proficiency at the top level and has also influenced young kiwis especially those from a European background – the Asian work ethic is rubbing off.
    The education goal posts have been shifted, the former school cert and university entrance exams have been replaced by more internally assessed qualifications. Some schools have changed to Cambridge exams so that parents have faith in the qualifying exams provided for their children.

    The employment contracts act has had the effect of widening the income spread. It has meant that the only way to achieve pay rises for lower income people is to raise the minimum wage. We have had reasonable gdp growth in recent years, but this hasn’t shown up in increased real wages.

    Flexibility is good, but New Zealand has lost quite a bit in the transition. Our apprentices are not as skilled as they once were, all schools are not viewed as being equal, people are less certain about their retirement pensions and our society is more materialistic than it used to be.

    Also bureaucrats are bureaucrats wherever you go.

  14. Deco

    I applied for a job in a local authority Council in the 1990s. I could not find work. I went into the interview, all guns blazing telling them what I was going to do for them.

    They were on a different wavelength.

    They asked me one question, if I knew “anyone on the council”. This meant a politician. I said that I didn’t. It was not part of my pitch.

    End of story. And there you have it. If you put no-hopers who are well connected in charge, you get serious morale problems. And there are serious problems in Ireland’s public sector.

    • LKSteve

      You got it in 1 there Deco. If your father was a member of a political party that had a sitting member on the council you would still be working there. Even a bit of campaigning for a local councillor would have gotten you the job. It’s just how it is.

  15. Deco

    Irish Third level is also sliding. Standards in certain many arts faculties are abysmal. I know a chap who drank his way through college who later became a lecturer, because of his LP membership. He came from a well off family, and joined the LP. At the time, I fell for the nonsense about the Labour party being for those that “labour”. That was superficial nonsense. It should be renamed the “jolly” party.

  16. Lius

    @ PS all you Bashers,

    Public Servants are the section of the Public Sector who deliver the services ALL OF YOU depend on, Doctors, Nurses, Gardaí, Teachers, Engineers, etc,. We have kept this country running smoothly on huge pay cuts and staff shortages and all we get from you lot is abuse. Most of you financial sector types actually received bonuses during the crisis even though you guy’s helped destroy the country through your greed.

    The section of the Public Sector who deserve your anger are the Civil Servants, Quangos and Politicians and they are laughing at you because you are all too lazy and stupid to direct you anger where it is deserved. Don’t you know that your anger is being wasted on hard working Public Servants who have no power to change anything.

    • Deco

      Concerning the Gardaí, here is a story. It concerns law and order in rural Monaghan.

      A farmer had his tractor stolen along with some equipment one night. He reported the incident to the gardai. The cops made no effort to do anything about it. Him and his neighbours spent weeks searching. They found it. It was located on a yard that was along the border. They took photographs. They walked into the gardai station, explained what they found and told the gardai the location of the stolen property. The gardai refused to go after the stolen equipment. That is right. The gardai were instructed about a crime, about the evidence and they sat on their FAT arses.

      1. The gardai did not want to report the crime, because they did not want an unsolved crime on their books.
      2. The gardai did NOT investigate.
      3. When told of the stolen property, they refused to investigate.

      Now this is the bit that outrages the Dublin media, the legal profession, and the institutional state. [ Crime never offends these people, but people doing something about crime is apparently unacceptable ].

      The farmer and his neighbours grabbed shotguns and rifles, and went to the location of the stolen property.

      They surrounded the property, and trained the rifles on the security hut outside the location. They then instructed the security guard to open the gate. He walked out with his hands up, and let them hold him. They seized the stolen equipment.

      Sorry, Luis, but the cops in this country are USELESS. They are committed to collecting fines, and nabbing people doing 65 kmph in a 60 zone.

      The people of Limerick do not depend on cops. The people of West Dublin do not depend on cops. And many border communities no longer depend on cops.

      They are just expensive jokers in uniform.

      • Deco

        By the way, despite all the lawyers in the Dail, we have a social worker in charge of the Justice Department. She responds to every crisis with the PR statement that ticks the boxes. But there is no seriousness concerning fighting crime.

        And if there was, the legal profession would go ballistic.

        Because the level of crime and corruption in Ireland is a “perennial stimulus package” for the professional classes.

        • DB4545

          Deco

          If you check the RTE news you’ll see that 16,555 people were committed to prison in this State last year and 13,408 of those were repeat offenders. That’s hardly a strong argument that prison is a deterrent. That’s a nice revolving door of release, new crime,charge,prosecution, defence,probation report, psychiatric report,conviction, sentence, appeal etc. That’s a nice little earner for every appearance in court for that crime all on legal aid at taxpayer expense.

          A tax efficient alternative that also shows justice and mercy?

          Three or more convictions to carry a mandatory 10 year sentence with the possibility of parole on licence after 5 years for good behaviour (mandatory drug testing and drug and crime free while in prison). Break the conditions of the licence and you’re arrested and appear before a judge who reviews the case and re-activates the sentence. Any further convictions receive a mandatory life sentence with possibility of parole on licence after 10 years. Break the conditions of parole and the clock resets for another 10 years. No expensive revolving door to enable the legal profession to milk the taxpayer. Behave yourself for 10 years and your conviction is expunged from public record for employment purposes (with the exception of serious offences such as murder, sex offences etc.) to enable rehabilitation.

          Why not we’ve tried everything else?

          DB

          • Deco

            I propose a special prison for three time or more offenders, on the far end of Inishowen, with no heating ?

            No summer. Even by Irish standards.

            Getting drugs up there would be very difficult, also. The seas are often rough. And the road journeys are way out of everybody’s reach.

            Dodgy mobile reception much of the time.

            A special category prison for people who are repeatedly bullying and beating up their fellow citizens.

      • Yeah what’s even more funny in this context is Gregory reckoned the Irish military needed to be prepared to act if Russian bombers kept flying up and down the West coast.

        Not in the next 10,000 years I told him.

        • Deco

          Exactly. More institutional incompetence.

          We are Nueteral !!!

          Because we are too neutered by institutional incompetence to be effective.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          Yes, dear Adam. And it is not some sort of anti-Russian bias, innate to – I admit – 90% of the population of Poland.

          I highly value Russian literature (in fact Dostoevsky and Chekhov were, along with Gombrowicz and Kafka) one of the few writers I was reading in college when I was not reading authors like von Mises or Saul Kripke or arguing with people ;-); so much so that I think it has more depth than French literature (which in many ways is more sane, but at the same time some of the problems of their characters sound to me like problems of people with too much time and too lazy to study or work in the garden).
          I also highly value Russian music (Stravinsky and Shostakovitch that is, of course not their pop music).
          And I try to look at the events in Ukraine from all perspectives, including Russian and by no means I think that it is black and white: the evil Putin attacks the sedate protesters in Kiev that incidentally held a minute silence in their parliament for a chap who murdered 100,000 Poles and Jews).

          And the fact that Victoria Nuland admitted the US spent $5bn in democratic institutions in Ukraine (bla bla bla, they always use those ridiculous words ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ for stupid journalists and their even more stupid viewers) does not indicate something very spontaneous.

          I have just written more about it than I intended (fortunately I am fast typer) and I still not answered Deco’s question from a few weeks ago what do I think of all of that (I said back then there are no villains in this conflict as every empire behaves according to rules described by Thucydides; at the end of the day, it is all about controlling supply lines and natural reserves and about who stops China from entering Europe and taking over their competition from both the US, Germany and Russia).

          So I cannot be accused of having an anti-Russian bias (David naively thinks that Poland wants to stop Russia expanding because they are biased, as if it was pulling a bird in a nightclub who is biased).

          But by Jasus, virtually all people in Ireland whome I spoke to (let alone those who salivate themselves out of excitement when Nicola Sturgeon says we should save £100bn on the continuous nuclear deterrent) do not seem to comprehend that having a strong army is not about being aggressive or even about being defensive.

          In a changing geopolitical situation having a nuclear deterrent (OR being allied with a country that has!) and having some sort of territorial defence is about SECURING A BETTER POSITION ON THE GEOPOLITICAL CHESSBOARD.

          People: Russia can cut off the energy supplies of the ‘neutral’ Ireland in one day – we are already the 3rd most dependent country in the EU on energy imports – and dictate their own prices as it is doing with Poland that pays more for oil than anyone in Europe – that’s why we spend 2% on the army

          P.S. A godd video to understand Putin’s mind – an interview with his adviser:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPkEDRSYUpo

          • Grzegorz Kolodziej

            Correctiomn: this is gas not oil that Poland pays most in Europe for (I was and I am in rush while typing). Russian oil is imported to Poland via a weird Russian-Israeli company Mercuria Energy Group LTD that belongs to Jankilevich

  17. Hair cutters in France are paid more than hair cutters in Poland because more productive France has more money to pay for the same work. Ditto for government workers: when the more productive country has more money to pay they should share in growing productivity. Or should we set government workers pay back to 1940 — or 1920?

    • paddythepig

      No, getting pay back to 2000 levels would be about right .. to undo the Bertie Ahern benchmarking lottery win.

      That way, the nation’s children and grandchildren won’t be on the hook for public service wages.

      A cull of the bottom 25% across the entire public service would help too.

    • Grzegorz Kolodziej

      Ddrew2u,

      One thing I would agree with you on frontline public service workers is that there are huge disparities between, say, a young nurse or a young Garda officer who just start their jobs and their older (older does not mean more qualified) colleagues, although compared to private services sector, their starting salaries are still not bad.

      However, the solution is not to match up the salaries of younger public sector workers with the older ones, but – as David pointed out – to introduce individual contracts so that good public sector workers are rewarded.
      Second thing is that – and I do not want to go into details (I could) -countries with better health service (even public health service) have more private providers than Ireland, so perhaps we need to look at that.
      Third thing is some services should not be public at all (and I will come to productivity sharing at the end as there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about it in your comment). Take Dublin Bus as an example of how we are worse off with having a public monopoly service provider:

      1. It swallows up salaries of young workers, money that could otherwise be spent on stimulating our economy – think of all that money that is not being spent on local businesses because too much of it goes to trade unions and their salary increases even though some their operating costs have declined by more than half (i.e. oil)
      2. It is a threat to our public transport safety – people cannot rely on Dublin Bus due to their tendency to extort money via strikes and their inability to operate on time and in snow conditions (unlike private providers such as the Aircoach);
      3. I would also like to add that many DB drivers lack basic skills to drive their heavy vehicles and are too lazy to figure out their timetables – go to Poland and see how bus drivers are able to accelerate and decelerate smoothly so that old ladies do not bang their heads against the staircase, as I have once witnessed or how they are able to set out an airport-like timetable that they are then able to adhere to; also, their – the public sector bus drivers – propensity to chat up other drivers has lead to a death of one young boy in Bray that the driver did not see entering the road because he was, as they often do in their overly relaxed work environment (made even more relaxed by the fact that more often than not they would not stop when people are running after them), laughing his head off instead of looking at the road (Dublin Bus had refused to admit any liability until they were forced by the court – and God knows how many similar incident might have occurred so far); in other words, public sector bus drivers salaries are twice as much as in other Western countries they are not correlated with twice as good skills while their prices are more than 5 times as much as in Western Europe, so everyone would be better off with that service not being run by the state – we would be better off with getting rid of their public monopoly status and their unions. So yes, I would blame public servants and governments for maintaining that wasteful and dangerous (for public safety) organisation because they always cave in to unions demands. If an Eastern European person serving in the pub took a full pint off the customer who paid for it or refused to serve him for no reason and said that he will call the Gards if the customer complains, they would rightly be sacked from their job – but public sector service drivers get away with such behaviour every day.

      Whoever thinks public sector is not privileged in this country should consider this:

      - some public servants get paid half an hour off a week to cash their cheques in banks even though they are not paid by a cheque
      - up in Co. Leitrim they get an afternoon off to go to a regatta (even though there has not been a boat race for a quarter of a century)
      - if you carry keys (say because you are an executive), you are getting 30 euro a week extra
      - and if you have to drive a car to a meeting in Dublin, you get another 30 euro extra because of the “stress and strain of driving a car”
      As you can clearly see from those examples, trade unions in public sector are the enemy within.

      As to productivity in Poland and France, of course you are right: more productive France has more money to pay for the same work (incidentally, French worker is also more productive that the US worker – it does not mean he/she is better worker). Where does the French productivity come from? Well, first of all you should not confuse the notion of productivity with the notion of efficiency or profitability. In case of Poland and France, higher French productivity comes from two sources: higher debt and the balance of powers in the EU. France has much higher levels of debt than Poland because first, it does not have constitutional ceiling on debt that Poland has and secondly, it is a part of the euro which means they can get easier credit and incur more debt.

      But is this good for France? In short term yes, in long term no. Poland is a much better place to invest than France precisely because it cannot incur so much debt and it is not a part of the euro Ponzi scheme, so the cost of labour is lower in Poland (despite incredible Polish bureaucracy and incredibly high taxes on labour). However, France offsets that high cost of running business by exerting more influence in the EU than Poland (or Ireland) so that it can break deficit rules without being punished. Also, part of France’s productivity was achieved by transferring profits from French companies (especially supermarkets and banks) Poland to France. So private consumers and workers in Poland have paid for increases in productivity of French private companies so that their companies can in turn pay for French unproductive public sector (even TGV operates at a loss).

      If you think the French model is good for Ireland you should bear in mind that part of the reason the Irish taxpayer had to bail out the banks was because countries that base their productivity (Germany and France) on colonising peripheral countries in Europe (Ireland and Poland) have power to force peripheral countries to transfer profits from them to manufacturing centres of Europe (Germany and France).

      Now you are saying: “when the more productive country has more money to pay they should share in growing productivity”.
      Yes, but
      1.Ireland is not that kind of a country. Labour productivity is not growing in Ireland. Property prices are growing and public sector costs are growing, and that’s not the same.
      2.Whatever productivity growth there was in the last decade, it was not in public sector – what there was in public sector was increased spending with no results other than overpricing. So yes, private sector frontline staff should have been sharing in growing productivity, public sector should have not – but they did so more than private sector. If anything, some public sector wages – like 800 euro a week for DB drivers – should be now cut to ease off low wages of frontline private sector workers who pay for their salaries which come not from productivity growth, but from political influence of their unions.
      3.One thing that you have to bear in mind that when we talk about education is that what usually lowers the level of education is when money goes to salaries instead of going to schools and students. Ireland slipped down the education ladder dramatically because it has ridiculously high percentage (80pc) of all education spending going on teachers salaries. Countries that do well in the said PISA rankings – like Poland and Finland – have much lower percentage of public spending going for teachers and lecturers salaries:

      https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6392627

      while countries that top the rankings are the most free market countries in the world – Singapore, Hong Kong and special economic zones in China.

      And public service people complaining about the lack of salary increases (especially Dublin Bus drivers on 40k) while a private sector worker on below 20k pays for their salaries remind me of the French President Giscard d’Estaigne who once decided he would once a week visit a normal French family to have breakfast with them and find out about their problems. Asked what he would usually have for breakfast he replied that his breakfast is very modest and it is usually scrambled eggs. When served scrambled eggs in the first house he visited – all his entourage and TV cameras around him – he asked where the truffles are because he did not know that most people eat scrambled eggs without truffles.

      • Deco

        Excellent post Greg.

        You should have your own blogsite. More information in there than in the entire IT Business Supplement (which is mostly a PR document for US mncs here for low tax purposes). [ Previously the IT Business Supplement was a PR document for the now bankrupt/then arrogant Irish banks].

        I enjoyed the truffles story.

        It represents a lot of what exists today in Brussels.

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          I would love to, but right now I would not be able to run it. Maybe something good will come out of this blog in the future.
          BTW, euro as a currency was designed by French strategists. Germany are not allowed to have nukes and be a fixed member in UNESCO, so they agreed to pay for French wasteful agriculture in return for France developing their nukes and Germany controlling France. And then the euro…

      • coldblow

        Did that Giscard d’Estaing story really happen like that? I doubt it but it’s a good story all the same. The recent Gwyneth Paltrow food stamp challenge is in the same category.

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gwyneth-paltrow-ends-29-food-stamp-challenge-with-a-pricey-gourmet-meal-in-los-angeles-10181099.html

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          It did. I cannot trace the source this very afternoon, but it’s in French style – as Ghandi once admitted in a moment of rare honesty nothing cost as much as to maintain the impression of simplicity. This was not even the strangest story related to French politics…

        • Grzegorz Kolodziej

          OK, try this for a source:

          Thompson, Wayne C. (2013). The World Today 2013: Western Europe. Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN 978-1-4758-0505

          I also have friends living in France who report to me most interesting news.

          And you can read more about d’Estaign culinary inclinations here:

          http://www.luxeat.com/blog/legend-truffle-soup/

          This is by far not the most bizarre story from continental politics.

          Consider this:

          A grant of €16,394 was given by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), with an additional €24,119 coming from the Austrian government, towards a project in Austria aimed at raising awareness of the Tyrolean landscape and its diverse features and to “increase farmers’ emotional connection with the landscapes they cultivate.” The main method of achieving these objectives was interviewing various farmers who were “expected to reconsider their relationship with the landscape and become more aware of their emotional reactions to it compared to their prevailing rational economic ones.

          And something more serious: recent attempts to rig the election in Poland (now you may be more inclined to understand why so many Poles see little hope in improving situation in their home country):

          http://www.topix.com/forum/world/poland/TE7VMB40UUEL7OQE2

  18. Lius

    @ddrew2u,

    More senseless waffle, Ireland does not have and never will have public sector hair cutters you fool.

    Would you prefer a cheap and greedy private sector surgeon operate on you who just wants to get onto the next job to make more money or someone who is given the required time to do the job right? You can see what you get from greedy surgeons from the horror stories of people who go abroad for cheap plastic surgery & dental work, is that what you really want?

    • Deco

      If Ireland did have public sector hairdressers, do you think that they would have any willing customers ?

      • Bryanc

        Doubt it – can you imagine how much they’d charge? Can you imagine how many would be sitting around the barbers with nothing to do! There’d be one guy working charging €50 a cut and another 5 sitting around drinking tea and reading the papers. The place would close at lunchtime during the week and wouldn’t open at the weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if the PS ran everything?

        • Bryanc

          The above description pretty much sums up the overall PS!

          • Lius

            Brynac,

            It sounds like you are sitting around all day drinking something much stronger than tea as only a drunken fools with nothing better to do would waste time discussing the possibility Public Sector hairdressing in Ireland. Both yourself and Deco sound like you have a drink problem.

  19. coldblow

    Just a few quick thoughts.

    I agree in general with David’s assessment: insiders vs outsiders. I’d be in favour of a reduced state role in things but I’m not sure how that should be done.

    Off the top of my head I’d start with the farmers and question the EU payments they get simply for owning land. Then I’d move on to the professions, in particular the legal one. Probably no harm to have a go at bank staff. And then I’d move on to the public service.

    I mentioned here before (probably more than once) that it was very hard to recruit clerical officers to the civil service around 2001 onwards in Dublin as the wages were not enough to cover rent. Prime Time devoted part of a programme to it.

    I question the cliche that the senior grades are getting by on the hard grind of the lwere ones. Probably the hardest working are the principal officers, but I don’t really know as I am a bit further down the ladder. I can think of cases where staff can be conscienciously doing their job but their efforts are far from adding to the sum of human happiness and it would be better for everyone if they were to take a few months, or years off, doing something more sensible.

    In many ways public sector inefficiency is a saving grace. If it were fully efficient in many areas it would make life hell will stupid procedures. There is no end to them and no end in sight.

    Lius, what is so important about where you are working that you can write off civil servants? My own cs job is essentially that of a dogsbody or servant. I have no specialization to fall back on and just have to try to do what comes my way (generally what nobody else will do) with whatever cunning comes to hand. I’m not complaining, it makes things more interesting. Those with specializations can sometimes (but maybe not that often) get ideas about themselves and their ‘role’.

  20. How bizarre is this? Is this any way to run a competitive economy?

    You will get a competitive economy when the graft and corruption is removed.
    Start at the top and reform the monetary system. Dishonest money breeds the sociopathic mindset that becomes endemic.

    When the politician can game the system using invested money conjured from thin air what do think they do. This enables the “insiders” to use your phrase, to line their pockets making promises to people they do not have to pay for.
    Then all the people ask for something that they are not entitled to.

    The feeling of entitlement becomes endemic not just a function of a bureaucrat. In fact an honest bureaucrat will be overwhelmed by the system or just not admitted.

    Being a member of the public service used to be deemed honourable, but is no longer.

    Most people pointing fingers at those they deem suffering from the entitlement syndrome should go to look at themselves in a mirror and there they will view the problem.

    The corruption will undermine the society until it collapses. Then a new age of honour and honesty will emerge to begin the next cycle.

    The monetary system is overloaded with the debt occurred by the entitled and is in the final stages of collapse. What the final result will be is easily seen at present.

    It is imperative that the world return to an honest monetary system, but that requires honest people to do so. That is the catch 22!!

    As Richard Doughty, The Mogambo Guru, proclaims , “We are all freeking doomed”.

    The best thing anyone can do is to follow the maxim of looking after oneself as that is the only person going to help you. Then and only then will you be in a position to help others.

    Michael Coughlan put out a good list of things to do for oneself. It’s not a bad place to start.

    In the meantime if you wish the corruption to be cleaned up, insist on an honest monetary system to replace the dishonest, fraudulent , Ponzi scheme we currently are blessed with.

      • Mike Lucey

        Interesting article Tony. It will be worth keeping an eye on Canada to see if they manage to get back to debt free money issuance.

        I won’t hold my breath as the multi tentacled parasites will not loosen their grip too easily. Well, not until the host has been nearly sucked dry and not much remains.

        The parasites will no doubt at this point put in place another well thought out system whereby everything is fully controlled using current technology that the vast timid majority will welcome as a good ‘fix’.

        Thomas Jefferson’s wise advise should be heeded …. ‘I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical’.

        Maybe we are seeing ‘a little rebellion’ starting Ireland currently. I see people that have had very little interest in casting their vote in the past but now are taking a very solid stand when it comes to ‘their water’ supply.

        • “I won’t hold my breath as the multi tentacled parasites will not loosen their grip too easily. Well, not until the host has been nearly sucked dry and not much remains.”

          Well, there will be no change until 20% of the people realize what the money system is and does to all.

          We have yet to persuade McWilliams, for instance, there is anything to talk about here.

    • invested money = invented money

  21. Deco

    A chap I know is working now for the HSE.

    He has worked in a factory, a warehouse, a restaurant, a farm in rural France, and even a spell on building sites. Plus multiple odd jobs. He has told me that the HSE is the most absurd. He worked twice as hard in the factory as he did in the HSE.

    So what is the problem with the HSE ? Well, it is just the juvenile absurdity that prevails. He told me that he has seen half hour arguments over silly things like the location of a mop. Common sense is banned. There are procedures and sign-offs for everything. The sign off is more important than the job for which the sign off occurred. The level of childish squabbling that goes on is doing his head in. But if you tell somebody to f*ck off and cop on, then you could cause an “incident” because you have taken on somebody’s self esteem.

    Employees are using unions and rules as a means to enable them to be careless.

    Everything is measured and regulated, and commented upon. But there is no impact anyway of underperformance.

    The HSE needs to be fixed by shrinks.

    • coldblow

      There is so much that can be said about bureaucracy. One of the problems is the superficial way scandals are handled here (and elsewhere, of course, but Ireland is pretty stupid). Say incident ‘x’ happens. It gets on the news and demands are made for something to be done. Stupid politicians (lacking *imagination*) demand that something be done immediately. Resources are diverted to producing elaborate guidelines to tackle the problem. This just makes everyone’s lives more complicated and the problem isn’t addressed at all. I don’t see this improving. Remember the Roscommon care home scandal? The staff on site were demonized (‘pure evil’ etc, even govt. ministers using this kind of language). There is no doubt a ‘suite’ or ‘raft’ of legislation and/or guidelines in place, and of course it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

      They bring in ‘targets’ for staff but what happens is that staff work to achieve these targets and forget about what they should be doing. These all seem to be bureaucratic attempts to solve practical problems from a high, abstract level of generalization, cliché and rhetoric. Demands are then made for ‘change!’ and how do they go about solving the situation? Well, more guidelines, more grandiose schemes, more nonsense.

      There was something or other happening in schools a few years ago and it was decided that a register needed to kept of teachers. The Teaching Co. was set up and all teachers had to produce an array of certificates and other information (perhaps in the form of a ‘suite’ or a ‘raft’) and the fee, renewable montly, was set at €100. (since reduced to about 60) My wife only does the very odd week here and there. I told her it wasn’t worth it as the fee nearly covers what she’d make after tax.

      And now we have two unasked for referendums (or ‘referenda’ as some like to say it) one of which proposes reducing the age of the President to 21. Yes, this is what we need. You truly could not make it up.

      • DB4545

        Coldblow

        Regarding the referendums I’ve no problem with the same sex marriage proposal as they’re entitled to be as miserable as the rest of us. Regarding the nonsense of reducing the age of the President again no problem conditional on not being able to draw down a pension funded by taxpayers until s/he has reached whatever the standard retirement age for OAPs’ is at that time. I know it’s not comparable to the US President for security ( but it is for salary) but what about the lifetime costs to Irish taxpayers for a President retiring at 28 years of age? Five or ten ex presidents and they’ll be costing taxpayers more than the Queen of England.

        DB

        • coldblow

          I heard that argument about the pension cost of child Presidents recently and it is a good one. A ‘young one’ was arguing in support of it on the telly yesterday while I was having my dinner. At least I assume she was in favour as I couldn’t understand anything she was saying as it was delivered in that curious Dort- California – Ciara the Vampire Slayer dialect. Actually, I don’t even know if she was a young one or not as I couldn’t see the telly from where I was sitting. I imagine it was along the lines of: our youth are immensely talented they do it abroad what’s not to like? My response: children should be seen and not heard. Also, adults arguing against it should not feel as if they have to preface everything they say with a statement about how wonderful and gifted our young people are. (Any self-respecting child will dismiss such platitudes anyway.) By the way, is John Waters the only man to spot that the Constitution says the President has to be in his thirty-fifth year. That means 34 not 35. I wonder did any of our infant prodigies spot that one?

          About the other referendum, if gay couples were already forced to marry wouldn’t we now be facing into an referendum on the right (a civil, democratic, hooman right) of people not to have to subscribe to such a phoney and antidiluvian rigmarole? Wouldn’t those narrow minded bigots seeking to impose this oppressive institution on a vulnerable minority just look into their hearts (even just ONCE) and do the humane and decent thing. Seriously, marriage has little standing nowadays and few recognized benefits. I don’t remember much comment being made about the introduction of tax individuation a few years ago, something which seriously disadvantages married couples where only one of the spouses is not in employment.

        • coldblow

          Another problem with adolescent Presidents is that they would go on about how nobody takes them seriously and how unfair it is. They would also be prone to hormonal imbalances and sports injuries.

          • Mike Lucey

            Adolescent Presidents indeed! This part of the forthcoming referendum is a bit of a joke when you consider this, ‘Is 25 the new cut-off point for adulthood?’
            http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24173194

            Instead of worrying about the presidential ambitions of 21 year olds here in Ireland we should be worrying about the 21 year olds abroad that have been disenfranchised.

            I think it would make more sense to double the required presidential candidate age to 70. At least the country would save on pension costs.

            I have been trying to find out the identity of the hair brain that initiated this laughable idea but it seems that it just magically appeared out of nowhere. I don’t remember any call for this from the electorate at any time.

          • coldblow

            Yes, if there is anything worse more useless than Irish presidents it’s teenage Irish presidents. I was looking for an earlier post I made but found this one instead (from Mary McAleese’s time in the gaff in the Phoenix Park):

            “Áras” is a verbal condition, it’s a girl with a mission, otherwise known as… Parklife
            A manifestation of alienation from the affairs of the nation is also known as… Parklife
            Brian’s got brewer’s droop, he’s terrified of Morning Ireland so he’s looking for another bench to kip on… Parklife
            Who’s that gut-lord marching?(Oh, it’s you again, Taoiseach) You want to cut down on your porklife, mate. Get some exercise! Parklife

            All the people,
            So many people,
            And they all go hand in hand,
            Hand in hand through their… Parklife

            I get up when I want, except on Wednesdays, when I get rudely awakened by the dustman… Parklife
            I put my cardigan on, have a cup of tea, and think about writing another speech… Parklife
            I feed the pigeons, I sometimes feed the homeless too, it gives me a sense of enormous well-being… Parklife
            And then I’m happy for the rest of the day, safe in the knowledge there will always be a bit of my heart devoted to it… Parklife

            All the people, so many people…

            It’s got nothing to do with your knowledge economy, you know… Parklife
            And it’s not about you bloggers who go round and round and round and round…

  22. Lius

    @coldblow

    I can write off Civil Servants because I know they are the bureaucratic Neanderthals who block all attempts at progress by the workers at the coal face. They do this because they want to stop any chance of smart managers working their way up the ranks and making them look stupid.

    @Deco

    You are forming an opinion based on one anecdotal example, your friend at the HSE is on of very few direct HSE coal face workers, most of us in the health service work for voluntary organizations (or contractors) funded and controlled by the HSE. The HSE constantly hand down insane directives without the resources to implement them. Some organizations abuse the power vacuum and confusion created by the HSE, however most of us do a very good job in spite of the poor conditions the HSE impose.

    • coldblow

      Lius

      How do you know this? Please give some details.

    • Deco

      Luis.

      You seem to think that I am being unkind, in forming an opinion based on what I have been told by a participant in the HSE.

      What do you expect me to do ? Form an opinion based on what a different person (in this case you) tell me instead ?

      That does not amount to much of a point.

      “the poor conditions the HSE impose” is an absurd statement. There is no problem with the compensation, or the equipment or the amount of money being spent. You are implying that there is not enough money being spent. I have been told money is never a problem.

      But the mentality that is abysmal. My pal told me that he is astounded at the childishness, squabbling, and pervasive level of psychological absurdity.

      A lot of the problem in the HSE is “between the two ears”.

  23. coldblow

    AndrewGMooney (if you are reading this)

    Off topic: I found this series of Danish lessons on YouTube. It seems very good as it just gives conversation and leaves out all the waffle.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ45-3wiNH4&list=PLekDvXanMiYVCvTWPqwHqBOHSkMRvNPtE&index=22

  24. DB4545

    We’re back to partisan fighting again with the insiders v outsiders argument. I’ll stand corrected but I understand that in parts of Scandinavia all income earned and taxes paid by all taxpayers is a matter of public record and the income and tax affairs of individuals and corporations can be accessed by all taxpayers.This helps to keep everyone in the public and private sector honest. The revenue service claims to have one of the most advanced tax systems in the world so I’m sure it’s technically possible.

    Why not open all tax records to public scrutiny including individual and corporate income,farm payments,tax credits, tax exemptions,social welfare and pension payments etc.? In essence full disclosure of all contributions to the public finances and full disclosure of where exactly those resources are distributed.The tide would be out, we’d see who’s naked so to speak and we’d see exactly who’s gaming the system. It would be fair and transparent for all Citizens with no exceptions.

    DB

    • coldblow

      I made a similar suggestion years ago here. Insiderism is so endemic in Ireland that it is not even visible, so it possible to get very agitated about its operation in others without being aware of the beam in one’s own eye.

      My proposal was that there should be full transparency of income, expenditure and assets for every single person. As you say, the tide then really would be out.

  25. Steve Hilton, ex-direction of strategy to David Cameron, on Newsnight now talking about the exploitation of the ‘outsiders’ by the ‘insiders’.

  26. survivalist

    This is essentially an essay attacking and supporting the destruction of the unions and undermining the professional working class under the guise of supporting ordinary working people (in the private sector) and their rights and welfare.
    How about these two alternatives, all workers can and should benefit from union involvement.
    Health care and education must not be and need not be linked to ‘test scores’ nor can they be fairly compared.
    This is an old and tired mantra and therefore dull. It would be some salvation if it were at least be open about the values supported within its worldview.

    • Dilly

      The Unions have failed the same way Civil War politics is a complete failure. The Unions destroyed the company I worked for. They basically allowed it to be asset stripped for a % of the proceeds.

      • survivalist

        Hi Dilly,
        The unions have been systematically destroyed as a result of decades of savage and illegal attacks against them (as one e.g. see NAFTA). That recent unions have not delivered for their members is not a successful argument for abandoning what is essentially a democratic organisation and value system.
        If a national health service is dysfunctional it does not follow that we ought to abandon the ideal of a national health service. Unions and the cause of uniting workers cannot be redefined by their recent outcomes devoid of historical context(not your words but a common refrain). The idea of a union is both a democratic value and a service to people, of the people for the people and by the people. Ultimately undermining unions also undermines a democratic society.

  27. cowbell

    Dear David,
    I have read all your books,I think you make wise comments on the state of the Irish economy, however as a public servant I am looking for pay restoration as my salary has been cut by 17%. It is easy to use the terms “pay rise” but that would be miss leading, remember FEMPI and the USC, please tell the whole story.
    Dave O Keeffe

    • Danny

      I think the implication is that a lot of the civil service are overpaid and under worked and that the pay should not be restored. It is easy to believe when you read about 28,500 applicants for €11 an hour Civil service posts: http://goo.gl/25bj3N
      It’s a gravy train and most people would like to be on board!

  28. Anyone seeing the fantasy figures / propaganda on Sky News just now, about inflation going below zero and how it’s great for everyone in the UK?!

    • Dilly

      And the ECB increasing QE because it hasnt worked. If it wasnt so serious it wouldnt be funny

      • Governor of England, Mark Carny, with his insincere fat face, fake tan, 10,000 dollar suit, private jet and padded expense account (should be a padded cell) has decried from on-high that the British people should ‘enjoy this period’ of ‘negative inflation’ (I thought that was deflation?).

        I’d say the proles are delighted to have been bestowed with such a generous gift from Carney – regardless of the fact that 99.99% of them won’t have a clue what he’s banging on about while their pockets are being dipped by the powers-that-be.

        • Deco

          Carney is Irish Canadian. He was instrumental in causing a real estate bubble in Canada, that is currently imploding. The implosion has already started in Alberta [ home province of the main cheerleader for Ponzifying the Canadian economy, the current CAN PM ].

          And it is hurting the banks and will cause them all to retrench their loan policy, so that they can absorb a wave of bad debts that are now unavoidable in AB.

          He managed to get out of there before the entire thing met it’s consequences.

          Carney received an honoury doctorate from NUIG. You know you have made it as an absolute joker, and you have not got found out yet, when you get an honoury degree from an Irish university.

          Bear in mind that the NUIG economics department had the good sense to be consistently against the borrowing binge under Bertie. NUIG should have known better.

          Maybe they are looking for GS money, or trying to strengthen links between NUIG and Canada.

    • Deco

      Does this mean that people can now start inflating house prices again ?

      The irony in all of this is only sublime…..

  29. cjmurray

    How can the top 16% of New Zealand/Irish students represent the average? What study claims this?

    The fundamental insider/outsider divide is between those with great wealth and power and the rest. It is not between public/private, old/young, native/immigrant etc., although big-upping these divisions is a useful divide and rule tactic, used by the cynical and the naive.

    Trade unions directly represent tens of millions of workers. For all their faults, they are a colossal improvement on tribal warlords, kings, emperors, and unelected cabals and golden circles from the modern business elite and their political gofers. But a further step is required. Financial incentives may be necessary, but they should be under direct democratic control. A maximum income should be democratically decreed by electorates.

  30. Deco

    I have just realised, that we are not getting an honest discussion about the Irish institutional state, because many of the people in it, do not like accountability, to the rest of the population – or even to other people working in different parts of the institutional state.

    And we see this in the predictable responses that arise when it’s ineffectiveness is pointed out, and questioned.

  31. Deco

    China needed to get rich before it got old. That was what propelled China for the past decade.

    Germany needed to get efficient, before it faced it’s demographic cliff. [ for comparison Italy did not address it's demography and that is getting worse].

    It is a matter of labour productivity. And Irish public sector productivity is a joke. Likewise, we have serious regional private sector productivity problems, which are being papered over with CAP subsidies, regional grants, etc…].

    Ireland is living beyond it’s means, regardless of the borrowing boom and binge that was engineered by the D4 banks, in response to a reckless ECB monetary policy.

    And Ireland is not facing up to it’s responsibilities.

    Basically, we must reform our institutional state, fix our addiction problems, reform our dodgy business culture, cure our psychological problems, reduce the cost of living, and get our debts under control.

    Otherwise we will be Greece 2.0 as soon as the next Nasdaq bubble implodes.

    Prediction : We won’t.

    “Cathastrophe in sight”

  32. Lius

    Its truly amazing how this forum goes off-topic.

    Is there nobody out there who values the hard work and dedication of Public Servants (not Civil Servants, Quangos & Politicians).

    Is it not fair that Public Servants who sacrificed up to 25% of their wages together with reductions in conditions and reduced resources to help save this country during a crisis should have their lawful contractual entitlements reinstated? Many workers especially the Bankers not only retained their pay but received bonuses during the crisis.

    If you want decent public services you have to pay Public Servants a decent wage to do the work.

    • Deco

      We want effective public services. We are getting rubbish, underperformance, excuses, misallocation, ineptitude, and failure.

      And it is very expensive rubbish. It is costing the rest of the economy a fortune.

      It is the biggest rip-off in contemporary Ireland.

      We want it reformed.

    • Mike Lucey

      I have a lot sympathy for Public Servants that had wage cuts of 17% (some of my relatives have been effected) but I have far more sympathy for the 100s of thousands in the Building Industry and related professions (which includes me) that have have their wages/salaries cut by 100% and have had to leave the country in order to survive.

      I have never heard of a case involving the ‘letting off’ of a Public Servant for anything or serious crime. Its great for them that they have solid job security, more good luck to them but they have to be realistic when it comes to wages/salaries. The Bertie years of soft talk ‘bench marking’ should have really worked both ways. It looks to me that it was a one sided deal for the sake of a strike free economy. ‘Whats sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander’ or such should be the case.

      As far as Civil Servants goes I think Mr Michael Fitzmaurice TD might have had a good idea when he suggested that Ministers should be allowed to select the top three Civil Servant levels of his/her particular Department. I have a horrible feeling that ‘Yes Minister’ was more fact than fiction.

      As far as Politician’s pay in concerned. I would have no problem giving performance related salaries running into the €millions to Ministers. This way more capable/able candidates might throw their hats in the ring. The huge bulk of ordinary TDs are not needed and no one would miss them except the various Party Whips.

      Would an owner of a large company not seek to employ the most able and qualified candidate for the job of running the business or make do with someone that has no particular proven ability, experience, track record or savvy for the job. Cunningness doesn’t count. Pay (comparative) peanuts and you get monkeys!

      Quangos! Put the required services out for Public Tender.

      • Deco

        The ironic thing about the Irish institutional state is that it’s high degree of centralization, results in relentless localism in the democratic process.

        We have created a dangerously centralized state system, in the name of efficiency – and it is not efficient. It is actually very inefficient.

        The current government has responded to the EP set back, by deciding to kick a lot of difficult decisions into the next Dail. Instead they are going to concentrate on “selling” the past “achievements” (even though most of them are really the result of ECB money printing and another Nasdaq investment bubble).

        This includes the Water tax (even though several already technically exist – it is just that they are used for bank bailouts, etc..)

        And it includes property taxes. And these are two different constituencies. A big argument is about to start with what to do with property taxes. And councillors and TDs in certain constituencies want to access the money as slush funds for projects that otherwise would not make economic sense. In other counties, especially along the Atlantic, there are demands for a share-out.

        To be honest, both sides in this argument are dishonest.

        I think we need honest debates about these topics. The media coverage of Irish Water has been a disgrace. Media coverage of property tax, and the internet tax (which is going to be a big issue also) is not objective.

      • coldblow

        Bad enough as the senior CS might be I think the politicians are worse again.

    • survivalist

      The role of the nurses, teachers, Garda is immeasurably valuable to the Irish society and are a source of pride for our nation.
      Let those who promote performance metrics be judged by it first. Perhaps we might apply outcome measures to our politicians and link their pay and pension rewards to them.
      Again this is another divide and conquer attack on the people as with the upcoming water rate referendum…I mean marriage rate referendum?
      :)

    • Bryanc

      Luis, answer this truthfully please. Do you get 1/2 hour or a full hour off to cash your pay check each week?

      • Lius

        Brynac,

        You should go back to discussing hairdressing with Deco and drinking, you are way out of your depth in this discussion.

        Our organisation has an electronic payment system straight to our bank account, we don’t even get a paper payslip, its online, 21st century efficiency like everything we do here.

        In fact if you got out of bed and went to work you would be aware of how employees are paid in the 21st century.

        • Bryanc

          Lius, I fully understand that the Public Sector are being paid electronically and have done so since the mid to late 90s. However, why is it that many Public Servants still get time off each week to cash their pay cheques (even though they are paid electronically)? And when there was an attempt to remove this privilege (even though it’s no longer needed), the unions threatened to strike.

          • Lius

            That’s really strong Tea Brynac,

            I don’t get time off to cash cheques, I never did and I don’t know anyone in the PS who did. I think you are digging up ancient history there, enjoy the tea with Deco.

  33. Lius

    @ Deco

    You have no idea how badly resourced the coal face of the health service actually is, you have no basis for your opinion, I work at the coal face, I know.

    Yes a lot of money is spent on health in Ireland but most of it is CREAMED-OFF by ‘the insiders’ via Quangos (HSE etc.), Insurance Companies, Consultants (PCW ), Lawyers who create cases from nothing, Architectural fees for buildings that are never built, etc, etc,. Very little of the money is actually spent on direct patient care and treatment. Most Hospital buildings and equipment are unsuitable for use, unsafe and badly maintained and the services do not have adequate levels of staffing – FACT.

    @ Mike Lucey

    For an intelligent man you are acting very dumb, you know well that the reason nobody gets laid-off in the public sector is because the Mandarins in the Departments and Quangos won’t let it happen as they fear that they would be next. Most dedicated workers at the coal face would support sanctions or dismissals of colleagues for incompetence or under performance, it’s more work for them to have to put up with slackers and idiots.

    Unfortunately the people who got laid-off in the building industry were working in high paid seasonal work which was optional. Public servants provide vital services to society like healthcare, policing, education, etc. Do you want to get rid of them and go back to the Stone Age or anarchy?

    • Deco

      [
      You have no idea how badly resourced the coal face of the health service actually is, you have no basis for your opinion, I work at the coal face, I know.
      ]

      Like everybody in this country I want to know what is going on in the HSE. But the public sector is not keen on accountability. The fact that we are not given the transparency that we demand does not mean that we do not know what is going on. We know from people working there. We know that the unions have massive power in preventing any form of productivity miracle taking place. We know that the management is stuffed with political party chums.

      And we are sick of it.

      And by the way, if you are doing a good job, and a proper job, then you should have nothing to fear from the people. Unless you do not trust the people, who are required to pay a high marginal tax rate for the state system.

      It is the Patrick Neary types that have the most to fear from more transparency. Which probably explains why politicians sit on their hands, in protection of their cronies.

      • Lius

        Deco,

        You don’t listen to anyone else but yourself do you?

        I already said that:-

        “Most dedicated workers at the coal face would support sanctions or dismissals of colleagues for incompetence or under performance, it’s more work for them to have to put up with slackers and idiots.”

        And you constantly rant on about the HSE, please do some research about the Irish Health System and stop embarrassing yourself. The HSE is a bureaucratic stonewalling organisation put in place by the Department of Health to protect themselves from criticism and scrutiny. The HSE provide very little coal face health services in this country, the bulk is provided by efficient, under resourced workers in voluntary organisations / contractors. Meanwhile the bulk of the money the HSE spend is wasted on themselves, useless reports and ridiculous management structures.

    • Mike Lucey

      @ Lius

      I see you both compliment me (re:intelligent) and insult me (re:dumb) at the same time. One cancels out the other so I am neutral ;-)

      I agree totally with you as regards far too much money being hoovered up by the Quangos Insurance Companies, Consultants, Lawyers, big Arch/Eng firms, etc etc and far too little being spent at the coal face.

      Getting rid of Public Servants providing vital services is not what I was suggesting. Good conscientious workers and management in all sections of the Public Service should have nothing to fear if a sack-ability rule was brought into the total system. I believe they would actually benefit as far more resources would then go directly to where it does the most good, the workers including good management.

      The inefficient workers will always rail against the introduction of a sack-ability rule as they know they would be doomed unless they pulled the finger out and delivered the goods, some would, some wouldn’t and those that don’t deliver get the boot just like in the Public Sector.

      How could this be implemented? The conscientious workers and good management demand it. They would have the backing of the public and nothing to fear.

      I think your view of the Building Industry is somewhat blinkered. We are now seeing the results of a decimated building sector in the Dublin area with housing shortages and its only a matter of time before it spreads to the likes of Galway and Cork.

      Like many others you appear to regard construction as ‘seasonal work’. Builders have for many years past rode the booms and busts and managed to survive by holding land banks. I can confidently tell you that this is not what they want. They would much prefer to have a steady ongoing industry in play where they could plan ahead and maintain reasonable ongoing employment levels. The only reason they (Builders) may appear to be greedy is that they have to ‘make hay while the Sun shines’ so to speak. This time around many did not have a chance to make even a few straws of hay for the rainy day.

      How could this be sorted? Very simply by good quality sustainable planning, not the madness that has been the norm in many areas of the country in the past.

      Mike

      • Lius

        Mike,

        Oh how I wish you and Deco and DMcW were neutral.

        I already said that most dedicated workers at the coal face would support sanctions or dismissals its the Mandarins in the Departments & Quangos that are blocking it to protect themselves.

        And as for the Building Industry, the most corrupt industry on the planet, I worked in it for 20 years and had to leave it because I was getting physically sick from watching the outright criminal activity. Price fixing, Priory Hall death traps, housing estates in the middle of nowhere, etc. And why didn’t some of those wonderful builders speak out for reform? I guess the same reason the decent hard working ordinary public sector worker didn’t.

        • Deco

          Obviously, you define neutral as in agreement with yourself.

          Everybody has a bias, apparently, except you – even though you have an agenda of not agreeing to any debate about what is going on inside the Irish public sector.

          Even though you routinely refuse to acknowledge that the costs on the rest of society are unreasonable and counterproductive.

          We cannot afford the Irish public sector as it is currently maintained.

          It is completely unsustainable. It is also intellectually unreasonable, given the amount of BS that is produced concerning it’s obsession with controlling society, and sucking it dry.

          The institutional state has simply lost the run of itself.

          • Lius

            Deco

            Your Holier than Thou attitude destroys your argument. There are a lot of good Public Servants doing a great job for the public which unfortunately includes the likes of you, and this in spite of undeserved generalised abuse they get from the likes of you.

            You are either too lazy or too ignorant to recognise the difference between hard working front line Public Servants on modest pay and the overpaid incompetent Civil Servants/Quangos who control them.

            It is people like you Deco with your polarised views that scupper any chance of progress in our society. YES Deco, it’s a society, it’s not all about money.

          • Deco

            1. Your response urges me to keep it up, because you refuse to address any of the issues raised.
            2. Most of your arguments are predictable. They amount to an element of guilt-trip.
            3. If only you were half as committed to reforming the institutional state as you are towards getting personal with me.
            4. I don’t care what you think of me. I really don’t give a sh!t.
            5. If it really is not about money, can you explain why the Irish public sector cost so much, and delivers such mediocrity ?

            The problem is that the public sector in Ireland is in denial, is being dishonest concerning it’s economics, and disingenuous with regard to it’s power/accountability ratio.

            WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH of the PRETENCE.

            REFORM. ACCOUNTABILITY. EFFICIENCY.

            The state sector is refusing to serve the public interest, despite all the superficial noise that it creates.

            If it does not serve the public interest then it needs to be rationalized and made more efficient.

            And lastly, we are sick of the nonsense and patronizing drivel. It is predictable, and no longer works.

    • Bryanc

      Luis, ok it looks like some parts of the PS are having the time off abolished but only now (20 years after the start of electronic payments)

      http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/dublin-city-councils-cheque-cashing-time-set-to-end-31118348.html

      And it had to go to the Labour court because the Unions still objected.

      How do you expect the private sector to take you seriously? Daylight robbery!

      • Lius

        Bryanc,

        Well I suppose if you dig deep enough you will find some isolated, historic obscure example to demonize a whole group, well done. There are many obscure practices in all industries but like the rest of your begrudging buddies here you choose only to highlight the ones in the PS.

        While I don’t have any experience or ever had “time-off” I would imagine that that union felt that it was part of the employment contract of those workers and that they should be compensated for moving to a new cost saving system, much like bonuses paid to private sector workers when they save money for their companies. Unfortunately PS workers have to fight for everything due to begrudging attitudes like yours. BTW the “time off” was originally given to those workers to allow the organisation eliminate the old cash pay packets and save money, this was in lieu of a one-off bonus payment which the begrudgers would not want. Cashing cheques back then would have been a difficult task for outdoor manual workers who could not get a checking account from any bank and there were no ATM’s.

        Do you consider travel time paid to construction workers in the private sector reasonable now that most building companies provide vehicles to their staff? There are plenty of other private sector examples.

  34. World economy is in decline. The entitlement bunch are the only ones getting an increase. This decline is worse than 2008-9

    http://investmentresearchdynamics.com/march-was-the-worst-month-for-u-s-economy-since-2008-recession/

  35. http://blog.milesfranklin.com/here-come-the-truth-bombs

    Will China and Russia expose the US economy for the sham it has become?

    • Mike Lucey

      Tony,

      Well after reading what Bill Holter has to say about what is currently happening and his careful positioning and ‘joining of the dots’ it would seem that the now unquestionable China / Russia alliance (as see in the recently snubbed Red Square Parade) are going to do a ‘number’ on the USA and the ‘West’ with the dropping of a 30,000 ton “golden nuclear bomb” no less!

      Real nuclear weapons have never really been a weapon option by either side (USA v Russia or China) as it would result in loose – loose unless a person considers living in an underground bunker for at least 5 to 10 years a win but a “golden nuclear bomb” could have the desired effect when it comes to the neutering of the US military arm and NATO also the USA’s hegemony via the Petro Dollar.

      It looks like the ‘golden’ sparks could well be flying sooner rather than later!

      Mike

  36. sravrannies

    I have avoided commenting so far as this is such a divsive issue and it is too simplistic to compare public vs private sector – we will find hard workers and slackers in both – the difference of course is that the consequences of natural selection rarely apply to the ‘public sector’.

    I have worked mainly in private but, on two brief occassions in the public sector and now working for myself where I have to deal with some public departments and my experience from that is quite disturbing. However, I doubt that culture is very much different in most countires around the world.

    What I have experienced and am exposed to does make my blood boil but, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot and should not blame any public sector worker. It’s not their fault. Perhpas like some politicians they start work with good intentions but, over time, restricted by a dysfunctional culture, managed by those who protect the status quo, are forced to ‘keep their heads down’ and they learn to extract as much as they can for themselves – essentially they become “institutionalised” and like politicians, their efforts are more concerend with politics and survival rather than changing the world!

    I don’t have the answer. Certainly, those at the coalface in the Public Sector will rarely enjoy and benefit from the growth and opportunities (based on merit) in the Pprivate sector, albeit, with some risk. Without a sea-chage at a political level and as long as our politicians collude with and gain from a culture of entitlement then, those workers below them can’t be blamed for doing so as well.

    I do know that in France, they do benchmark private vs public pay and the latter (to take into account pension benefits etc) is pitched 20% lower than private. But then, France has some strange employemnt legislation – did you know you are more likely to be made redundant in France if you have lots of experience and single on the basis that you would find it easier to find another job than someone with less experience and a family!

    Vive la revolution!

    Peter

  37. Deco

    David, here is a an article about Portugal.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11616002/Europe-faces-second-revolt-as-Portugals-ascendant-Socialists-spurn-austerity.html

    The interesting bit is the graph in the middle of the article.

    ” Global Competitiveness Index ranking, intensity of local competition “.

    Ireland still has serious problems. Ireland is still inefficient, high cost, and a quagmire with respect to oligopolistic behaviour. We are still in the PIGIS sty.

    You might wish to discuss this, at some point in a future article. That deal that the Troika brought, promising reform of the professions, and price-setting has failed abysmally. We have a complex, opaque legal framework which facilitates all sorts of funny business.

    And of course, it is now obvious, that the politicians are not being honest with the people. It is exactly as you have stated in your article concerning labour productivity going nowhere.

  38. SMOKEY

    “From Leinster House to Bath House” in under 4 years!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOglp1dk5uM&feature=youtu.be

  39. Lius

    @ Deco,

    You are just not willing to listen and have a debate, I have tried to address your points but you just ignore me. You want to simplify the issue by lumping all public sector workers into one stereotype, I guess that is all you are able to comprehend or you have succumbed to the brainwashing of the media paid which is directed and paid for by the INSIDERS.

    END OF DISCUSSION Deco, your just an agitator with no sensible point to make.

    • Divide and conquer is the rule of the PTB.

      United we stand and divided we fall.

      The single abiding issue to be reformed is the question of the money supply.

      The bankers control all with the issuance of unlimited credit at interest.

      Politicians are bought. The people are bought.

      Entitlements are encouraged. The debt suffocates, the interest sucks away the wealth. The people fight for the scraps. We debate endless non issues. We fight amongst ourselves. We are deluded and controlled.

      The system of our issuance of money is corrupt and a fraud. We build our societies upon a debt and promises to pay. The promises become impossible to fulfill. Our currency debts are irredeemable.

      The whole economic structure is built on sand. It has no foundation, it is doomed to failure. It is constructed deliberately so. It is designed to emmesh and indebt and enslave humanity.

      The corruption starts with the money system we use and percolates through society, rotting and destroying it.

      No fiat paper, debt based currency has lasted as long as the current one and the average is 40 plus years. 1971 was the removal of all restraints on the printing of money (the production of money from nothing) that is now 44 years. We are in the last days of the survival of the current system as the economy chokes and we all fight amoungst ourselves instead of addressing the basic and most obvious problems.

      It is right in front of our eyes yet most cannot see the obvious. Give up the personal squabbles and look at the real problem to be solved.

      We must return to an honest money system or we are doomed to fight and squabble our way to economic slavery.

      • THe production of money from nothing flies in the face of the age old adages. “There is no free lunch. ” “Getting something for nothing implies it has no value” That is the essence of entitlement, getting something for nothing.

  40. Grey Fox

    The bizarre entitlement culture of our public sector…is a very well cultivated policy, I am sure there are many PS’s who read this blog, some might even comment now and again, many agree with the quite correct points made, a huge number of lower and lowest grade PS would support any initiative which would change the status quo, they live with it everyday, outsiders get a glimpse behind the veil, disgruntled insiders live it every single day. If one starts to make trouble, there are two options, move them out or move them up, either way the dissent is stifled, the official secrets act does nobody any favours either. That is the reality…PS are second class citizens, they have no voice, they have no representation, do not confuse their silence with any form of tacit agreement, that only applies at certain upper levels, below that PS’s are no different than anybody else in simply trying to hold on to an income and survive in an increasingly difficult world, believe me I know….

    • Lius

      Grey Fox,

      You are so right, we coal face workers in the Public Sector (Public Servants) are neither insiders or outsiders as DMcW would like to pigeon hole everyone. We are lower than outsiders managed by the insiders, the Civil Servants, Quangos and Functional Officers but are treated like outsiders by them. Our input is not sought or accepted by our masters. We are punished for speaking out or even recommending improvements by being relocated, disrespected and given menial tasks. We cannot complain to our Unions as our managers are members of the same union and they collaborate with each other. We have just recently seen what happens to whistle blowers in the Public Sector, there is no justice for us.

      Why do we put up with this? the same reason people in any private sector company do, because we have families to feed and mortgages to pay.

  41. allblackmagic

    I’ve worked in the NZ public sector for many years across a wide variety of organisations, including The Treasury. While it’s nice to be appreciated, it’s not all sweetness and light in the NZPS:
    * CEOs lack the courage to give free and frank advice;
    * Ministers no longer back their agencies in public and take them to task in private, preferring to throw their advisors under any passing bus;
    * Poor performers are removed via pay offs in artificial restructurings rather than go through byzantine bureaucratic procedures;
    * Innovation is stifled by loss-aversion.

    Our countries share a lot in common – disinterested big brother economies next door, bilingualism, colonial legacies, pretty decent rugby teams, etc.

    It’ll be interesting to watch your Irish tiger learn to roar again.

  42. From LeMetroPoleCafe dot com

    *Only the mentally challenged in the gold/silver corporate world/financial market press can’t seem to appreciate just how manipulated the gold and silver prices are (throw the CFTC in there too) …

    5 Banks To Plead Guilty To Criminal Rigging Charges, Pay $5.6 Billion For Manipulating Markets
    http://www.zerohedge.com/users/tyler-durdenSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/20/2015 10:10 -0400

    As the live webcast from US AG Loretta Lynch indicates, moments ago the DOJ announced five global banks including Citi, J.P. Morgan, Barclays, RBS would plead guilty to criminal charges to conspiring to manipulate FX Prices, and would pay some $5.6 billion in combined penalties to resolve a long running U.S. investigation into whether traders at the banks colluded to move foreign currency rates in directions to benefit their own positions.

  43. These banks think they are above the law. Criminal behaviour and the attendant fines are just a cost of doing business. Talk about entitlement!!

    Four of the banks, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, and Citigroup Inc., will plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros, authorities said.
    The fifth bank, UBS AG , received immunity in the antitrust case, but will plead guilty to manipulating the Libor benchmark after prosecutors said the bank violated an earlier accord meant to resolve those allegations of misconduct. UBS will also pay an additional Libor-related fine.
    Bank of America Corp. will also pay a $205 million penalty to the Fed to resolve the regulator’s foreign exchange probe. Bank of America didn’t face similar action from the Justice Department.
    Authorities said euro dollar traders at the banks, who were self-described members of “The Cartel” communicated through coded language in an online chat room to coordinate attempts to move rates set at 1:15 and 4 p.m.
    Turns out ratting our criminal peers out does pay after all:

    One UBS trader also engaged in the same collusive behavior in the euro and dollar market, but the bank wasn’t charged over that conduct because it had obtained immunity by being the first bank to report the possible antitrust violations.
    Live DOJ webcast below.

    Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
    And yet:

    No traders have yet been criminally charged over the conduct, but New York’s financial regulator said it required Barclays to fire eight employees in connection with the resolution. Investigations into individuals are continuing, according to government officials.
    Don’t be surprised if despite the guilty criminal pleas, nobody goes to prison yet again.

    In any event, we now know that aside from Libor, FX, gold, stocks and treasuries, nothing else is manipulated.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-20/5-banks-plead-guilty-criminal-rigging-c
    harges-pay-56-billion-manipulating-markets

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